Vitamin B6. Why it’s so important


B6 seems to be in so many supplements now. It’s needed for proper dreaming, digestion, hormones, mood and so many other things. Why are so many of deficient in this B vitamin and how do we get out levels up?

A mild deficiency of vitamin B6 is common in Australia, and without sufficient levels your health can really be affected, for the worse. Vitamin B6 absorbs in the digestive tract so if you’re suffering with gut problems then chances are you wont be absorbing it.

[private]With low levels of Vitamin B6 you may be suffering with symptoms of PMT like as breast tenderness, fluid retention, irritability and fatigue. A deficiency will also lead to depression or anxiety, anaemia (low amounts of healthy red blood cells), a compromised immune function and/or poor protein metabolism.

Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine affects our mood as it’s involved in the process of making serotonin and norepinephrine, which are chemicals that transmit signals in the brain.

Vitamin B6 deficiency in adults may also cause other health problems affecting the nerves, skin, mucous membranes, and circulatory system. In children, the central nervous system is also affected.

A deficiency can occur in people with an overactive thyroid, problems with absorbing nutrients, kidney failure complications, alcoholism, liver scarring, and heart failure, as well as those taking certain medications.

Another reason for a deficiency is a condition called Pyroluria. This is a genetically determined chemical imbalance involving a problem with hemoglobin synthesis. Hemoglobin is the protein that holds iron in the red blood cell. Individuals with this disorder produce too much of a byproduct of hemoglobin synthesis called ‘kryptopyrrole’ (KP). Kryptopyrrole binds to Vitamin B6 and Zinc and makes them unavailable for their important roles as co-factors in enzymes and metabolism.

Vitamin B6 and zinc – when bound to kryptopyrrole – are removed from the bloodstream and excreted into the urine as ‘pyrroles’.  Omega-6 fatty acid (Arachidonic acid) also becomes deficient. Symptoms of zinc and/or B6 deficiency include poor stress control, nervousness, anxiety, mood swings, severe inner tension, episodic anger (an explosive temper), poor short-term memory and depression. The ability to efficiently create serotonin (a neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and depression) is diminished.

In addition, those with Pyroluria often have frequent infections and are often identified by their inability to tan, poor dream recall, abnormal fat distribution, and sensitivity to light and sound. Pyroluria is diagnosed using a urine test, checking for abnormal pyroles in the urine. It’s often referred to as ‘the mauve factor’.

B6Sources of vitamin B6

The richest sources of vitamin B6 include legumes, fish, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (other than citrus). A supplement may be necessary if you’re levels are very low. Be sure to get a whole food, non synthetic supplement like Lifestream’s ‘Natural B Complex’.

Table 1: Levels of Vitamin B6 per 100mg serve

Food Milligrams (mg)
per serving
Percent (DV)
daily value
Sunflower Seeds 1.35 67
Pistachios 1.12 56
Chickpeas 1.1 55
Dried prunes 0.75 37
Ground beef 0.68 34
Quinoa 0.5 25
Potatoes 0.4 20
Millet 0.5 20
Bananas 0.37 18
Chicken breast, 0.5 15
Avocado 0.29 14
Bulgur (cracked wheat) 0.2 10
Spinach 0.2 10

 Table 2: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin B6

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 0.1 mg* 0.1 mg*
7–12 months 0.3 mg* 0.3 mg*
1–3 years 0.5 mg 0.5 mg
4–8 years 0.6 mg 0.6 mg
9–13 years 1.0 mg 1.0 mg
14–18 years 1.3 mg 1.2 mg 1.9 mg 2.0 mg
19–50 years 1.3 mg 1.3 mg 1.9 mg 2.0 mg
51+ years 1.7 mg 1.5 mg


We now know that those of us with the lowest levels of vitamin B6 in their blood have the highest levels of chronic inflammation, and those with the most vitamin B6 are also the least likely to have indicators of inflammation. So if you’ve been trying to correct a health issue for some time, and with no luck, Vitamin B6 just might be the answer to the puzzle.


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